Visual Storytelling - T. Benjamin Larsen's Blog

Democratization of media, part deux

After finishing the "Uncle George and I"-piece I came across this somewhat related blog-post over at Agile Filmmaking. It's a speech by J. J. Abrams of Lost, Alias and Mission: Impossible III fame and it touches so many of the topics I've blogged about so far that I would be crazy not to present it here.

Mr. Abrams is something of a Hollywood wunderkind and I find it incredibly generous of him to share his thoughts with the world for free.

The message

The majority of the speech, or at least the most interesting part in my mind, is about how his grandfather helped him get the tools necessary to fulfill his creative ambitions. He goes on and points to the fact that today pro-tools are readily available for just about anyone. "Go make your movie, there's nothing stopping you!" he says. A statement that might seem oversimplified but for the most part it rings true as long as you are willing to put some effort into it.*

One of several highly interesting speeches to be found at TED

The delivery

I've never seen a public appearance by Abrams. I knew about him from his film- and television-work but knew little about what to expect. Being a truly talented visual storyteller I expected him to make a presentation with a lot of visual flare. He didn't. For the most part he simply presented his message by sharing personal experiences with the audience. He used a few physical props but only used the gigantic screen behind him for a few film-clips. When running the clips he simply stepped back and let them work their charms without interuptions.

I found this very interesting and highly effective. The visuals and his oral presentation never had to compete for the audience's attention. Now this is certainly not the only way to do a presentation and on the surface it might even sound boring. If you watch the clip you'll find that it is anything but though. Abrams heartfelt enthusiasm carries through even on a small flash-clip on my computer-screen.

None of this is exactly rocket-science as any communication-expert worth his money will tell you that enthusiasm is contagious. It does show though that with the right delivery you don't need fancy visuals. This might seem an odd statement to make on a blog about visual storytelling but the visuals should always be there to strengthen the core-message not because they look "cool".

*As long as you're not struck with poverty.